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Thread: A life without children

  1. #1
    Sr. Member Eleanor's Avatar
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    A life without children

    A very sensitive, but widely discussed topic these days: people who (either by choice or not) live a life without children. It's still very much the norm that you 'ought to' get married and then as a logical follow-up have kids. People don't ask if you want children. They ask when you'll have them. If by any circumstance you end up having no children there is (apparently) something wrong with you or your life choices.

    There are of course a thousand reasons why people don't have kids. Not wanting them is but one. Some are not physically able to have children, or they didn't find the right partner, or life simply got in the way. I'm 32 years old and I have never had any desire to have children. Don't get me wrong. I like children. Just the idea of looking after a mini-me never appealed to me.

    These are some of the comments I've heard when I tell others I don't want children:
    - "Just you wait, you're still young..." AKA "Tick, tock..."
    - "Why? Do you hate children?"
    - "That's a bit selfish, don't you think?" => someone please explain this one to me
    - "But you'll get so much love in return! You'll miss all that!"
    - "You don't know what true love is until you have children."
    - "Don't you think it's about time you start trying?"
    - "Aren't you afraid you'll end up all alone?"
    - "You'll regret it." => definitely the one I've heard the most

    In my country, but I'm sure in most of western culture we're brought up with the typical picture-perfect idea of what the ideal life looks like and having kids is part of that. It is as most people think 'normal' and because of that the thought of not having children can be a scary one for some. Especially that fear of regret or dying alone can really be something that keeps people up at night.

    These ideas of what life looks like with/without children can only change through discussion. So I'm curious about what you guys think about this topic. I'll throw in some questions (you don't have to answer them all):
    - Do you have children? Or are you childless/childfree? (not a fan of either of these words, but for lack of a better one...)
    - Is/was not having children your own choice?
    - How are you experiencing life without children? What are the best/worst things about not having them?
    - How do you imagine your life without kids will be like as you get older?
    - What are some of the things people say to you when you tell them you don't have children? What do you say in response?


    Or if you do have children:
    - Have you always wanted to have children? Was it a conscious choice?
    - Did having children meet your expectations? Is it easier/harder than you thought?
    - How are you experiencing life with children? What are the best/worst things about it?
    - Would you do it again if you could go back in time?

    Or of course anything that comes to your mind.

    (Lastly, just a little reminder to please stay respectful to other people's opinions and experiences. As I mentioned earlier, this can be a very sensitive and sometimes even painful topic).

  2. #2
    Kick Ass Little Crow Corvus's Avatar
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    Re: A life without children

    I am a queer male-ish person who has a difficult relationship with the concept of family. I neither want, nor can have, the traditional family life. I'm also fairly young, I'm only 24.

    My gut reaction to people having bio kids is that it's selfish. I don't know if I actually believe it, since parenthood is a much more complicated topic psychologically, socially, and ethically. It's not my place to make this judgement for someone, and I shouldn't begrudge them for it.

    I went through many years where I wanted to die; thankfully that is far in the past now, but it made me consider if my parents were at all ethically responsible for my suffering. Through the virtue of having brought me into existence, they have exposed me to suffering. These were the feelings of a hurt child and I recognize now that it stemmed from resentment, not at my birth, but at the awful parenting I received.

    Still, as an adult I can't deny that there's some truth to it. For a moment putting aside all my particular hang ups, if I were to have a child it is most likely that they would be quite average. They would consume resources as an average citizen, contribute to ecological degradation, result in pollution and extinctions, and create a literal mountain of trash throughout their lives. This is through no fault of their own, but a product of being a human person in our society. This alone brings up the valid ethical question posed by such groups like the voluntarily extinction movement. Ultimately, I think humans have an inherent goodness and that that is not the best path, but I also think about the expanse of a human life and all one does, makes, breaks, and doesn't do, all of their joys, pains, hopes, and fears, and being responsible for that is a frightening, and truly biblical sense awful thing. It's a beautiful thing to make new life, but humans are uniquely wise in how they can scope and choose the cultivation of that life. I don't really have an answer, but it's something I've thought about.

    I also just don't particularly enjoy children. I'm sure I would be an okay parent, perhaps even a fine one, but when I consider the role of parent I only feel a strong indifference. I figure having no strong emotional reaction is probably the best indicator that it's not right for me. When I consider children, it's not a pro or con list exactly, but children would require a lifestyle change. They're objectively rather inconvenient and I value both my money and my time. In a way this too is selfishness, but it's difficult to really argue I'm selfish for keeping things from someone who does not yet exist.

    Nearly all my friends are childfree, so I am well understood by my peers. My relatives used to say I'd change my mind when I got older. I always hated that, but in fairness active hatred of children did largely fade when I became an adult. Strangely, these questions about my potential romantic life and hypothetical children essentially disappeared when it became widely known that I date men, which is somewhat odd since I do date women also. I wonder what that's about.

    I would much prefer to have pets and take care of plants anyway. I don't see myself being overly fulfilled by children, and I can see many ways for it to go wrong. It's also just not fair to a hypothetical child if Im unwilling to fully devote myself to them. My roommates, who are married, have recently had a child (adopted), so a lot of this is sort of on my mind anyway.
    Last edited by Corvus; 11 Oct 2020 at 09:04.
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  3. #3
    Member CottonIchor's Avatar
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    Re: A life without children

    a lot of those hypothetical situations are unrealistic - especially the "when you get older" ones - the "regret" ones - let's face it - when parents get older more often then not they have distant relations with their children - the kids move away for college and all of the sudden they are married and living in a city a 1000 miles away - and that's if the parents marriage even survived (50% of marriages end in divorce) - the kids are probably more apt to be inclusive in the parents life at the very end of their life when their health deteriorates - and when the quality of life is already fleeting - so is there really a "payday" for having children ???

    the REAL question is - are you willing to give up the PRIME years of your life to have children - the BEST years of your life sacrificed to raise children for 20 years... 18-40 maybe 25-45 and if you start that young you may just fall victim to spending a proportional amount of time raising/attending to grandchildren... if not young then it's more like age 50+ or more before you escape the parent trap... this is also coupled with that during those age brackets someone in the household has to be carving out a career - if not both in these trying economic times...

    I'm not knocking it - as the youngest of 7 children I am very grateful that people have children otherwise I wouldn't exist - but it's not really fair to pose it as 'selfish" when one weighs how much of their prime years are they willing to sacrifice to have children - it's a matter of priorities not selfishness....

  4. #4
    Live and learn anunitu's Avatar
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    Re: A life without children

    raising kids is NOT for everyone ,having two grown kids,Both now over 40 it was a positive thing for me,but it can be over whelming for many and they would be better off not having kids
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  5. #5
    Supporter Hawkfeathers's Avatar
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    Re: A life without children

    I'm 63 and childfree by choice. I never wavered, never had a "clock ticking", etc. I like children, but simply never felt the desire for them. I've been patronized for it most of my life. "You'll change your mind" was a constant thing in my 20s & 30s. As recently as age 55 I had someone tell me I should "at least" adopt a baby. I'm very glad I've always felt the way I do, since it would've been heartbreaking in my childbearing years to know I couldn't have begun to afford a kid, nor raise them myself, with having to work just to keep a roof over my head. I strongly believe every child should be wanted, loved, and cared for properly. I have zero regrets about my feelings on the subject.

    Can you hear me, Major Tom? I think I love you.

  6. #6
    Live and learn anunitu's Avatar
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    Re: A life without children

    what works,works hawk,and raising another human is the hardest thing you could ever do in life,why i say it is not for everyone!
    MAGIC is MAGIC,black OR white or even blood RED

    all i ever wanted was a normal life and love.
    NO TERF EVER WE belong Too.
    don't stop the tears.let them flood your soul.




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  7. #7
    Supporter Hawkfeathers's Avatar
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    Re: A life without children

    Quote Originally Posted by anunitu View Post
    what works,works hawk,and raising another human is the hardest thing you could ever do in life,why i say it is not for everyone!
    Everyone thinks differently about what's hard or easy to do in life. That's arguable, although that discussion would be best left to another thread. There are many people who have children and regret it, and that's a huge taboo. I was talking to a 75 year old woman just the other day about this very thing. She has 4 grown children and some grands, and she loves them, but is adamant that if she had to do it all again, she would have neither married nor had kids.

    Can you hear me, Major Tom? I think I love you.

  8. #8
    bibliophibian volcaniclastic's Avatar
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    Re: A life without children

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawkfeathers View Post
    I'm 63 and childfree by choice. I never wavered, never had a "clock ticking", etc. I like children, but simply never felt the desire for them. I've been patronized for it most of my life. "You'll change your mind" was a constant thing in my 20s & 30s. As recently as age 55 I had someone tell me I should "at least" adopt a baby. I'm very glad I've always felt the way I do, since it would've been heartbreaking in my childbearing years to know I couldn't have begun to afford a kid, nor raise them myself, with having to work just to keep a roof over my head. I strongly believe every child should be wanted, loved, and cared for properly. I have zero regrets about my feelings on the subject.
    You have always been a source of inspiration for me, Hawk. Growing up, I knew exactly one woman without child (my grandmother's best friend) and I always assumed I'd want them eventually.

    I'll be 34 next month. "Eventually" never happened, and I've never had the urge. Last year, when my long-term partnership fell apart, in part due to a conflict in kids, I realized, if I was willing to give up a very comfortable life with a comfortable human being to stay child-free, then that "maybe in 5-10 years" urge was never going to happen.

    Next month, I'm getting sterilized, and I couldn't be more excited. I've got some nieces. They're cool as heck. I can love them, and give them back.

    It's the dog life for me.
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  9. #9
    Supporter Hawkfeathers's Avatar
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    Re: A life without children

    Quote Originally Posted by volcaniclastic View Post
    You have always been a source of inspiration for me, Hawk.
    Well, that totally made my day! Thanks. Good luck with the sterilization procedure! I had looked into it when I was around your age and got the old "you'll change your mind" speech. I only went to a couple of doctors, as I had to stay in my insurance network, and I kind of knew what I'd be up against. I've gotten attached to some kids in my life - an ex-bf had two who were 5 & 7 when we met - today one's a math teacher and the other's finishing med school. (I'm not in touch with them but I snoop every now and then. )

    Can you hear me, Major Tom? I think I love you.

  10. #10
    Silver Member iris's Avatar
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    Re: A life without children

    I'm 27 and single (divorced), and I hear that "you'll change your mind when you get older" all the **** time (or "when you meet the right man" like that's some sort of magic spell that will trigger my maternal longing). I hate it. another one I hear a lot is "well life is just empty without children"...
    Personally I object to having children to fill some hole in your life... that's not the job of a child.

    Honestly. I may change my mind. I'm still at a point where I am not entirely sure. But I do know that where I am now, it's not something I see in the future. Maybe my life will be completely different in 5 years. But it's not really a desire I have.

    When I was younger, I thought I wanted kids. looking back now, I'm not sure I did want them, it was more that I believed people when they said I would eventually. I had a health scare a few years ago and faced the possibility of being infertile. I was really upset at first, but it subsided into relief pretty quickly cause suddenly I might have a legit excuse to not have kids. It was one of many reasons I eventually chose to get a divorce; I didn't know that I actually wanted kids, and I didn't want them just because I would probably get used to it, or because that was expected. that seems like a bad foundation for raising a healthy child.

    I don't have any healthy examples of mothers in my life, my own was abusive, as was hers. I'm still finding myself after that. I don't really want to have the full responsibility for another human being. I like my freedom, and the more I get to know myself, the less likely I think it is that I will want to give it up some day.
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